Thanks to (the soon to depart) Cosmo over at the blog, Invisible Oranges, Jaron Lanier (You are not a gadget), Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli of Uhh Yeah Dude and Daniel O’Brien at Cracked (Fixing the Internet), I have finally figured out what to do with a music blog. More on that later. First, however, some context.
The informational world that is our beloved internet is over-populated by personal data harvesting (here’s lookin’ at you Facebook and Google etc), “like”, “re-tweet” and “thumbs up/down” buttons, information aggregates (best of lists, link lists, friends lists, unbalanced averaging of review scores) and rampant zeitgeist “me first/me too”-ism. What is underrepresented or otherwise buried underneath all this trash is considered opinion, critique, reflection and examination. We seem to have forgotten that quantity has never been equivalent to quality and that even if only one per cent of the information out there was actually worth our time, most of us hardly have the time to read any of it.
We have been blinded by and enamoured by the ease of use of reductionism. Where once we might have read in detail, debated and masticated now all we seek is consensus, shriek and masturbate. I was there too. And it is only sheer willpower that keeps me from another doomed and depraved entry. Despite the fingers-crossed-promises of social networking, the internet is still a solitary experience for me. “Liking” something with a horde of acquaintances and the anonymous has yet to noticeably contribute to my enjoyment or understanding of music. Similarly, expressing negative sentiment as part of the impersonal horde has also failed to ameliorate or diminish that which I do not like, support or otherwise endorse. Amid this textual noise, I have felt disempowered, reduced. Such is the gift of anonymity.
It is with thanks to Lanier that I am able to redefine the rules of participation, align myself with actual humans and proceed in an attempt to create text of worth in a context where text itself, like music has become almost worthless. Why Lanier? Perhaps there are others of similar persuasion to the tech pioneer, perhaps he is not the first, nor the best representative of the issue, I cannot say. But I am able to unequivocally locate him as the voice responsible for my reinvigoration. What makes Lanier shine so bright as to burn away the entanglements of the contemporary internet is this: he rejects anonymity. Naturally there is a time and place for facelessness, especially when one is oppressed, persecuted or otherwise harassed. However, the current paradigm of anonymity has created a “cloud” of “authoritative” knowledge created by… no one (toot-toot Wikipedia).
A short while ago, Cosmo stirred the embers by writing about how to write reviews on the internet. Opposing description and categorization and smacking down “like/hate”. Instead he advocated engagement, thoughtful critique and style. I have many times sought to come up with a similar guide. But I was always stymied by the fact I had no audience. Not even a faceless one! What made this piece so relevant to me was that it was a plea from a writer, simply saying “know about what you write about and know how to write”. Cosmo will be sorely missed.
Throwing an old school net lovin’ log on the fire is, Daniel O’Brien at Cracked who wrote on how to fix the internet. While once again, I risk a too broad summary: he argued against the like/hate paradigm. What is more is that O’Brien dares to call for a redefinition of internet users. In popular culture, the socially inept nerd remains the dominant image and yet the reality is that the typical user of the web is virtually everyone in the developed world
Jonathan and Seth of UYD toss irreverent and humorous fireworks into this bonfire of informational creeper vine as they frequently speak of technological addiction and the way in which we have all been reduced to sensation/experience junkies: the world screams out: “feel this when you eat that”, “be that when you drive this” and so on. Roughly translated, “click “like” to be this”.
Frankly, I remain unrepresented and dissatisfied by the predetermined, default categories, however infinitely “finer” they become. I just do not want to be this when I like that. And unless I say otherwise, no one can ever know otherwise. So it is then that we arrive at the possibility of me creating online again. Unless I am “me”, Robpocalypse, outside the categorization and reduction of friend lists and number of useable character allocations, I simply cannot “be”. Without a grounded voice, I become part of the faceless. It is not that I aspire to fame or notoriety, but if I am to be for the foreseeable future online, then I want it to be my voice which speaks. I am comfortable with being a nobody, but I am not willing to be a mob member.